Oil near 2015 highs on strong China data

Oil near 2015 highs on strong China data

Brent broke through $67 earlier this week for the first time since May 2015.

Oil prices dipped today but stayed close to their highest in two and a half years, as data showed strong demand for crude imports in China and on increased refining activity in the USA that drew more crude from inventories.

The rise saw WTI hitting its highest level since June 2015 on the final trading day of 2017.Brent crude futures - the worldwide benchmark for oil prices - were also up, rising 33 cents or 0.5 percent to $66.49 a barrel.

Kim Kwangrae, a commodities analyst at Samsung Futures Inc.

"The political situation in Saudi Arabia remains sufficiently volatile to spike crude values by at least 50 cents at any given time as was the case (Thursday)", Jim Ritterbusch, president of Chicago-based energy advisory firm Ritterbusch & Associates, said in a report, noting he did not expect Friday's oil rig count to exert much price impact.

Brent futures were down 37 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $63.56 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude settled 43 cents lower, or 0.7 percent at $56.74 per barrel.

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Specifically, slightly more than half the survey's respondents expect the rig count to continue to climb six months from now, but almost all said oil above $60 will be needed for a substantial increase.

Crude oil witnessed a continued increase with the global prices extending their recovery well and truly this year. Output peaked at 9.6 million bpd in 1970. Front-month prices are about 12 per cent higher this year, after rising 45 per cent - the most since 2009 - in 2016.

Oil continued its revival from the biggest crash in a generation, with prices set for a second annual gain after a year marked by hurricanes, Middle East conflict and the tussle between Opec (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) and United States shale, said a report.

USA output is still up by nearly 16% since mid-2016, but most analysts had expected production to break through 10 million bpd by the end of this year-a level only surpassed by top exporter Saudi Arabia and top producer Russian Federation.

OPEC cuts kicked off last January and are scheduled to continue throughout 2018.

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